The Bengals have been dealt a huge blow, as the team was informed that linebacker Odell Thurman’s suspension has been lengthened for another season, meaning that he will NOT be in a Bengals uniform for the 2007 season. The linebacker as well as the team was expecting that he would be reinstated and would be back on the field this season. The agent for Thurman, Safarrah Lawson, said that Thurman had met all requirements of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Thurman was suspended for the 2006 season after he skipped a drug test and then was later arrested for drunken driving. He had asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to reinstate him for the 2007 season, but was denied. The team insisted that they were preparing for the season without Thurman, but there seemed to be a underlying tone that they felt he would be back and that he would be able to play as well as he did his rookie season.
The linebacker spot that belonged to Thurman now belongs to Landon Johnson and Ed Hartwell. John Thorton, Bengals defensive tackle spoke about not having Thurman back on the Bengals web site. “From what we heard he was doing everything he was supposed to do and to miss another year is tough,” said. “But obviously the commissioner has his reasons and you have to respect them and maybe there’s something we don’t know.”
The league has not given the reasons for why Thurman was not given reinstatement back into the league. Cincinnati had 10 players arrested over a 14-month span. Thurman and wide out Chris Henry, who will also miss a part of the year with a suspension, have been repeatedly suspended by the league. “It would have been nice to have him, but we didn’t have him last year, we didn’t have him in the spring, and the coaches weren’t (counting on him) because they made some other moves,” Thornton said. “You like to have all your players, and he’s one of your better players. But I think we’ll be fine.”